bookcover-2“Elisa Bernick has written an impeccable, step-by-step guide for getting out of Dodge. I mean, really getting out of Dodge–how to move your family to another country for 18 months. Equally important, she offers an articulate and fascinating examination of why you might want to do that and the consequences of doing just that. This is not only an excellent handbook; it’s also an affecting story of the rewards that accrue to parents with the imagination and courage to change their lives as well as the lives of their children. Perhaps forever.”—Rudy Maxa, star of the PBS series’ Smart Travels and Rudy Maxa’s World

“How can a committed parent find adventure in a life cluttered with soccer practice, PTA and play dates? Elisa Bernick has shattered the paradox of parenting. With equal parts story telling and “how-to,” The Family Sabbatical Handbook provides a blueprint for any mom or dad who dreams of adventure yet still puts their family first. Her step-by-step guide motivates those of us who may have been afraid to bring our families to far away parts of the world and then tells us how to get there. The happy result is a family-enriching experience wherein everybody grows closer to each other and as world citizens. Every American parent should read this book.”—Dan Buettner, explorer, travel journalist, and founder of Quest Network

“As someone who has long been intrigued with the idea of an extended stay abroad, I was impressed by The Family Sabbatical Handbook. The subject matter is well organized with a descriptive table-of-contents that makes it easy to find exactly what you need and if there is anything about living abroad with children that Bernick hasn’t covered, I certainly didn’t find it. From locating an apartment to coping with homesickness to seeking medical care, she has the information you’ll need. Presented in a down-to-earth, conversational style, with anecdotes from ex-pat friends, The Family Sabbatical Handbook should be a must-read for anyone planning an overseas adventure.”—Janice Macdonald, author and travel writer

“…this guide is unique in focusing on those on a tight budget and on families moving to another country temporarily to experience the culture and learn the language. Bernick’s writing style makes readers feel that they’re getting advice from a good friend, and she includes an excellent annotated list of resources.”—Library Journal

“For those who are more adventurous and willing to wander beyond the big chair in front of the television, there’s a terrific book, The Family Sabbatical Handbook….The lessons they learned are now available to anyone else who just wants to get away from the job, try doing new things, and bond with loved ones in a foreign locale. Don’t leave home without reading this one.”—Alan Caruba

“Sometimes when you read a book it spurs your imagination. This is one of those books. This book helps families make dreams into reality. Who would ever think of just putting their house out for rent and taking off to a faraway land with their family for an unspecified period of time? This book tells you about fifteen families that did just that and provides the details of how they did it. Filled with specifics and enfolded in humor, the book is a fun read even if you don’t think you could actually pull this kind of thing off … but if you are even thinking about something like this, then this book is a “must-read” for you. I especially loved the part about getting along with and living in close quarters with kids for an extended period of time. If you want to do this or just live vicariously through the book, buy this one and you are in for a “ride” you won’t forget … and one caution, this book will make you start dreaming and that can be dangerous!”—Jane E. Meckwood-Yazdpour

“Parent and journalist Elisa Bernick, along with her husband and two young children (ages 2 and 7), take a “family sabbatical,” living for 18 months in Mexico without benefit of an overseas posting or a company expense account. They rely on three years’ savings and rent from their home in Minnesota. The result is an extended adventure in a foreign land, a shared experience that brings the family closer together. There are innumerable problems as well, from schooling the children to securing health care, from homesickness to marital stress. Using her own trials and triumphs, as well as those of 15 other families who lived in Europe, Asia and South America for extended periods, Bernick brings to life the mundane issues of family life abroad: packing for a new world, making the dream affordable, finding a long-term rental, surviving that first month in a strange land, and dealing with relatives and visitors from back home. There’s even a chapter on readjusting to the old realities upon return. For anyone about to go abroad with children, this account touches all the bases before the real game begins.”—J.D. Brown and Margaret Backenheimer, Chicago Tribune…

“If you read a lot of travel writing, especially adventure travel articles, you get the impression that nothing interesting happens to anyone traveling with a spouse, much less a family. Expatriate articles and books aren’t quite as bad, but it’s still tough for families wanting to move abroad to find solid information that answers their questions. The Family Sabbatical Handbook is a breath of fresh air. It covers the bases not from the standpoint of someone who can pack up the studio apartment at home and find two local roommates in a foreign land. It is for those who have gotten to the point of real obligations, families that have to deal with changing schools, selling vehicles, covering the mortgage while away, and setting up online passwords for 14 different financial accounts.

Through personal experience and a few interviews of other families, Elisa Bernick gives a rounded and thorough review of what to think about, what to plan for, and what to take as it comes. It is a refreshingly honest book, with chapter titles like, “I Love My Kids but They Are Driving Me Crazy!” and “Surviving the First Month.” Be advised though that the book is very focused on Mexico, where the Bernick family lived for over a year. A wider geographic variety of interviewees would have helped, as whole continents get barely a mention. The cultural considerations and residency issues for many popular expatriate areas around the globe are going to be very different than those in Latin America. Overall though, this is a worthwhile investment for those looking to uproot the family and live abroad for a while. I’m in the early stages of planning my own family sabbatical down the road and this book not only covered the bases, but raised plenty of issues I hadn’t even thought about. With this as a guide and checklist, I know I won’t go into the planning process feeling like I have to start from scratch.”—Tim LeffelPerceptive Travel Book Reviews,…

“Thinking of traveling to a different country with your family for an extended period of time? Elisa Bernick’s Family Sabbatical Handbook will help a great deal. She does a phenomenal job of pinpointing all of the issues and helping guide any family through all of the possible scenarios.”Renee Estey,

“Put down your Blackberry.Turn off your iPod. Close your eyes and relive your past travels.Maybe it’s Flamenco dancers and performers crowding the streets…or the smell of salty ocean air…or the flavor of a sweet Beaujolais made from grapes outside your window… Now open your eyes and get back to work! If it were up to author Elisa Bernick, you’d get down to business, quit your job and make that fantasy come true…with your family in tow. As avid travelers, Elisa, a writer and teacher, and her husband Michael decided to drop everything in Saint Paul, Minnesota (jobs included) and try out a new life with their two young children, Cleome and Asher. After three years of serious financial planning, paying off their debts and saving money, the Bernick family took an 18-month sabbatical in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. In her book, The Family Sabbatical Handbook, Bernick explains all the steps they took to make the trip happen and what to do once you get there. They didn’t know anyone in San Miguel de Allende. They didn’t speak Spanish. And they didn’t know how their kids, who had never traveled for longer than two weeks, would adjust to the change. But surprisingly, once they were in Mexico, the Bernicks didn’t have trouble assimilating to the culture. Even the kids weren’t picky about eating traditional foods: “They had the freshest food in the universe. My kids never ate fruit like that before. In Mexico, they have 35 varieties of mangos alone,” Bernick said. In Mexico, the family found local schools and doctors through word of mouth and online. “I’ve learned to just ask everyone [for advice],” explains Bernick. “We posted on Internet chat boards and got so many suggestions.” Bernick wanted Cleome to attend public school and was surprised by the quality of the educational system. “They have an excellent school system for children in school prior to middle school. The math program is superior.” Five years after the sabbatical, the family has returned to Mexico six times. “We have so many lasting friendships from the experience,” said Bernick. “[Now] my daughter is pushing us to go on sabbatical to Vietnam before she graduates high school!”Jessica Reinis, Radio Interview for…



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